On this night at the Roxy Theatre, the guitar was king. The six-string summit began early at the famous Sunset Strip venue; the house still filling in as Duane Betts and his Pistoleers took the stage a few minutes past eight o’clock. Tearing into the Rolling Stones nugget, “Silver Train,” Betts and his fellow axe man Johnny Stachela established the proverbial and literal tone right from the drop; blistering guitars and cranked-up amps. Plenty of jams rumbled through the half-hour set, with Stachela shining on slide and Betts driving sweetly melodic through his original “Taking Time,” then as the two paired up for a beautiful rendition of Betts’ father Dickey’s “Blue Sky.” Yet, this was but the thunder before the lightning.
The curtain parted on the North Mississippi Allstars with just the sibling duo of Luther and Cody Dickinson, on guitar and drums respectively, onstage. Luther, working both fretboard and keyboard through a crunching opener that left him with a broken string, seemed positively possessed by the spirit.